The use of Mindfulness can help to take control of the situation in the sports context.
Mindfulness, or Mindfulness, is a state of mind oriented to the present moment that is not only effective in the treatment of underlying mood disorders in elite athletes, but also makes it easier for them to perform as they really know how.
Mindfulness in sport as a state of mind
Great athletes can develop difficulties that lead to anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, eating disorders or depression, and the practice of Mindfulness has been shown to be an effective training in this. (Evans, S., 2010).
In addition, Mindfulness is a technique that consists of experiencing life and the sport we practice as it is. Far from the judgments, opinions and evaluations that the mind has to make of all this. It is an approach to reality without falling into evaluating whether it is good or bad. It allows us to perceive how reality is in the present.
Practicing Mindfulness in sport has to do with focusing on what we really know how to do in the game without letting ourselves be carried away by the sensations, emotions and thoughts that arise while we compete (Thompson, RW, Kaufman, KA, Petrillo, LAD et al. ., 2011).
High-performance athletes who practice Mindfulness
There are athletes who have recognized on occasion that they practice meditation and body awareness exercises (yoga) oriented to the practice of Mindfulness seeking a total integration of the mind and body in competition. Among some of them, we find Lebron James, Roger Federer, Pau Gasol, Emilio Butragueño or Tiger Woods.
In fact, Novak Djokovic publicly acknowledged the use of this mental training as part of his preparation for competition; “I use an important method to conserve my energy level, even when negative feelings leak out. I practice yoga and meditation on a daily basis and it is as important as physical training ”.
That the players are fully in the game
The idea of integrating Mindfulness into sport has to do with gaining greater ease and confidence on the pitch.
Feeling that giving our best is something that comes naturally; This would be one of the objectives of integrating Mindfulness in sports practice. That is, entering a state of “flow” or fluidity both mental and physical where the athlete develops all his game and offers his best version unconsciously (Csikszentmihalyi, M., 2008).
As an example of this, Michael Jordan got to make a basket with his eyes closed in the middle of the game.
His technique was so mechanized and mentally so developed in his consciousness the image of the basket, the contact of his body with the court, with the ball, the degree of strength and movement that served him to score points, that he came to seem to us a being immortal in some moments of his career.
His game flowed regardless of the conditions that accompanied him.
What does Mindfulness bring to sport
With the practice of Mindfulness applied to sport, we learn to live with the negative feelings and thoughts that arise in difficult moments without affecting our performance.
In other words, when we have to compete, we try to do our best. It is clear that sometimes things happen that we cannot control, such as an arbitration ruling, an adverse result or whatever the rival decides. Therefore, another focus when training in mindfulness in competition is aimed at increasing our ability to “be” with frustration, fatigue, pain and tiredness, in such a way that this is something that is obviously , but not what decides how we want to perform.
Mindfulness allows us to be focused on what does depend on us, and that is why there is data that confirm an enhancement of performance when there is attention (Summers, JJ, Machin, VJ and Sargent, G., 1983).
The sport and the practice of Mindfulness are similar in the sense that both require a receptive and open awareness to the game, so that it allows us to make better decisions in real time.
Why practice Mindfulness in competition
When athletes are consolidating the practice of Mindfulness, that feeling of flowing in the game increases, and it is something that we are fortunate to be checking with athletes who dare to collaborate with us.
It is a tool that benefits those who decide to try this and even notice its effects in other areas of their personal lives. In other words, the way of working that I have been developing with athletes and sports entities that prepare competitions of the magnitude of the Olympic Games is oriented towards something like this:
“If you pay more attention, you perceive more. If you perceive more, you can better grasp the needs of the game. If you better understand the needs of the game, you can make better decisions. “
As a result, it may be easier for you to connect with your best version despite adversity, since the mind is trained to return to what matters at that moment, no matter what.
- Evans, S. (2010). Review: mindfulness – based therapies effective for anxiety and depression. Evidence-Based Mental Health 13: 116.)
- Thompson, RW, Kaufman, KA, Petrillo, LAD et al. (2011) One year follow-up of mindful sport perfonmance enhancement (MSPE) with archers, golfers, and runners. Jornal Clinical Sport Psychology 3 (4): 291-302)
- Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2008). Flow: The psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper-Collins.
- Summers, JJ, Machin, VJ and Sargent, G. (1983). Psychosocial factors related to marathon running. Journal of Sport Psychology 5: 314-331.